words by nerissa

…observations, thoughts and questions

Archive for the tag “Success”

Stop doubting and start believing

It's not who you are that holds you back. It's who you think you're notAs most of you know, I’m a freelance writer.

Like any other profession, the life of a freelancer has it pros and cons.

Pros include choosing my own hours, being able to work in my pyjamas, having a coffee machine less than 10 steps away, and being flexible enough to watch my kids at their various school activities or have lunch with a friend.

Cons include competing deadlines, varying monthly income, the need to work nights and weekends at times, and having to line up your own work.

For now, the pros outweigh the cons and I am pretty happy to be living the life of a freelancer. The ebb and flow of work also allows me to work on my first novel. (But that’s a different story for a different blog post).

 

Contributing writers, volunteers and interns

However, one of the pitfalls of a freelance writer is the need to constantly be on the lookout for work. Sometimes work comes in as a result of groundwork laid months or even years ago. But it can take time to build that momentum. So I have several email alerts set up to notify me of various writing jobs available.

Some of these jobs offer reasonable pay but most pay a pittance. I actually wrote a post a while back about the generous offer to pay $20 for 2,500 words which equated to less than 1 cent per word).

However, the more alarming and frustrating trend I am noticing is the expectation of writers to work for free.

Hard to believe?

Well, it’s pretty common in the world of freelancing and unfortunately, it is becoming more commonplace. It’s not unusual for me to see as many as 10 of these ‘job ads’ per day!

These job ads are very cunning. They start out as normal job ads, stating what their company is and what the ideal incumbent is like. These ads often request people with degree-qualifications, high-end research skills, native-English speaker, attention to detail, willingness to work hard and ability to deliver to brief. You can also expect wonderful working conditions. Blah blah blah.

The kicker is usually hidden, right at the end.

Unfortunately, we cannot afford to pay for writers at this time, but you will gain tremendous experience.

OR

This unpaid position is ideal for someone wishing to build a portfolio of work.

OR

In return, you will gain valuable experience and learn the ropes of writing for a digital platform.

In other words, ‘we want top notch writers who have loads of experience writing interesting researched-based articles, who are willing to work for nothing’.

 

Believe in yourself — or you’ll work for free

These ads anger me for several reasons.

  1. They promote the premise that good writers are not worth paying
  2. They play on the self-doubt that plagues many writers, that they aren’t good enough to request a fee
  3. They devalue writing skills in general
  4. They devalue the writing industry by setting up expectations for other business owners, that good writing can be obtained for free
  5. The business model behind these ads is based on exploiting people and their talents
  6. The business owner expects others to work for nothing in order for them to build their business (i.e. get ahead at the expense of others).

For every one ad that is willing to pay a writer a decent amount, there are at least 20 – 30 looking for a freebie. Quite frankly, I’m sick of it.

But what I am more sick of are the writers who agree to such terms, because they are really not helping their cause, or mine.

Every time a writer agrees to write for free, they undermine their own worth, the worth of other writers and devalue the writing industry in general.

The reason so many people respond to these ads, is because they doubt their skills are worth paying for. They don’t back themselves. Instead, they gladly accept any job that comes their way, even if it means they don’t get paid.

It’s kind of like being offered scraps from the dinner table and being over the moon about it.

 

Know what you’re worth…and stand by it

If writers stopped doubting their abilities and demanded to be paid, then these ads wouldn’t be tolerated, let alone answered.

Today I saw another ad for a ‘start-up’ wellness company. They were looking for “content writers/creators for blogs, research articles, marketing material and newsletters mainly focusing in health, wellbeing and fitness”. That’s exactly my niche, so I continued reading. (Note the grammatical error is the advertiser’s — no wonder they need writers) …

“All content will need to be original, and target our the desired readers along with the consideration of SEO.

We are looking for someone who is reliable, hardworking and keen to produce content. In return, you will gain valuable experience, working for a new up and coming health start-up company.”

I immediately saw red. I was so angry, I had to step away from my computer for a while.

But after thinking about it, I decided to contact them.

I wrote quite a detailed email responding to their ad, outlining my experience, my skills, my publishing credits and provided them with links to all my published works.

I finished my email with this sentence:

“I’m sure I have the skills you are looking for, so I would welcome the opportunity to discuss this with your further. There’s just one thing …. I want to be paid for my expertise. If you are willing to pay me, we may be able to work together.”

I called them out on looking for free labour and told them I was worth paying.

For the record, I don’t expect them to respond. But that wasn’t the point of my email. I wanted to tell them they needed to rethink their advertising.

Instead of being angry about their ad, I told them I was worth something. I took back my power.

 

Do you practice self-doubt or self-belief

Sometimes it’s not easy to back yourself.

Self-doubt is probably the biggest hurdle for writers. Is this the right style? Will they like what I write? Is this the right angle to take? Am I good enough to write this?

When work seems to dry up, it’s very easy to think the worst — that you just can’t make it as a writer.

However, writers don’t have the monopoly on self-doubt. Everyone experiences it.

The man who wants to change careers but doubts he has what it takes.

The business owner who wants to expand her business, but questions whether she will be successful.

The boy wanting to represent his country at the Olympics one day, but wonders if he is good enough.

The student wanting to study law, but doubting she has the smarts.

The aspiring novelist wondering if she is kidding herself.

you can do anythingAs I see it, we have two choices.

We can keep doubting, or we can start backing ourselves.

We can keep questioning our abilities, or start believing in them.

We can keep wishing for dreams, or start working towards them.

The choice is ours.

Personally, I’m choosing self-belief, because I’m worth it.

And you’re worth it too.

 

Write to the Point CommunicationsNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you (and you are willing to pay her), contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

 

 

Dreams and plans

Dreams and Plans words by nerissaWhen I was a girl, I had a dream. It was a very unrealistic dream, but I dreamt it nevertheless.

There was no way that I could ever achieve it — even if I devoted every minute of my life to it, and all of my money.

Would you like to know what it was?

I dreamed of reading every single book that had ever been written.

A silly dream? I know some of you can’t even imagine finishing one book!

However, I was a young, avid reader. I would read the cereal box if there was nothing else to read. I spent all my pocket money on books and my spare time reading them. Reading them was my favourite thing to do. Once I went on a day-trip with our local church. My mum gave me some money to spend on ‘something special’. I came home with two new books. That wasn’t really what she had in mind. But they were special, weren’t they?

I would often read way past bedtime. Sometimes I stayed up until I had read the whole book from start to finish. (Shh. Don’t tell my mum).

I couldn’t imagine anything lovelier than a life of just reading. Reading. Reading. Reading.

Dreams and Plans words by nerissaHowever, as I got older I realised what an unrealistic dream it was. Once I got to high school and had to read set novels that I absolutely hated, it dawned upon me that to achieve my dream, I’d have to read things I hated. When I discovered that new books were published every day, then I quickly realised that time was running out — I’d never have enough time!

Then there was always that pesky question of whether I would have to read books in a different language.

When it came down to it, the dream was too hard and unrealistic, so I let it die.

Sometimes dreams are unrealistic and the best thing to do is to let them die. A life spent chasing the impossible is not only frustrating, but it is a waste. A waste of time, a waste of energy and a waste of other opportunities that are possible.

But what about those dreams that are possible, yet require a lot of hard work and effort? Should we let them die just because they seem impossible?

Or is there something we can do to increase our chances of success?

I believe there is. It’s called a plan.

Planning is something most of us do anyway. We plan our meals. We plan our weekends. We plan our holidays. Why not plan our success too?

Sometimes dreams can take years to fulfil. Sometimes to achieve the ultimate goal, you need to achieve many goals along the way.

Take becoming a brain surgeon for example. There are 13 years of school to complete, then six years studying an undergrad medical degree. After that, a further six years of specialist training. If a little girl starting school this year aspires to be a brain surgeon, she has 25 years of hard work ahead of her, and wouldn’t be qualified until 2040!

Dreams and Plans words by nerissaShould she give up, simply because it is hard and will take a long time?

Everyone has dreams.

“Wouldn’t it be great if…..”

“One day I’m going to…”

“I wish….”

The trouble is that’s what most of them will ever be — dreams and wishes and a life of regretting that you never achieved what you so dearly wished for.

Unless you have a plan, then the chances of achieving success is slim.

Being successful in your life is a little like taking a road trip. You need to know where you are going, you need to know from where you are starting and you need a map. When taking a road trip, we usually look for the milestones along the way — usually a town, a river or a turnoff. By following the map, we don’t get lost. But if we simply get in the car and drive, then who knows where we will end up?

When you have a map, it’s also easy to overcome any roadblocks. You can easily identify another route that will get you to your end destination.

Fear often stops us from success, but so does the lack of a plan.

Planning takes thought. Planning takes work. Yet planning is often the difference between wishing and succeeding.

Do you have a plan?

If so, then you are a step ahead of the dreamers.

If not, you had best get busy making a plan.

Write to the Point CommunicationsNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

Choose your words wisely

words behaviourHow do you speak to your boss?

How do you speak to your kids?

How do you speak to yourself?

I bet you are a lot kinder to your boss and your kids than you are to yourself.

When you talk to your boss, what kinds of words do you use? What kind of image do you want to project? Is it an image of efficiency, following the rules, doing a good job, showing your initiative, proving yourself? What kinds of words do you use when you speak? Most probably positive, affirming ones.

What about your kids (or friends, if you don’t have kids). How do you speak to them? If you’re like most parents, you probably use words that encourage, praise and build them up. You use words to help them become confident and resilient. You use words to reassure them, and to teach them valuable life lessons. When you need to, you can be firm, but you do it with love.

Now what about you. How do you talk to yourself?

Do you use positive, affirming words or words to praise, encourage and build yourself up? Do you speak to yourself with love?

I’m willing to bet if we could listen to most people’s internal dialogue, it wouldn’t be very pleasant. It would probably be full of self-loathing, put-downs, limiting beliefs and chastisement.

Do the following phrases sound familiar?

“I’m so stupid”

“I’m so ugly”

“I’m so fat”

“I’m hopeless”

“I can’t get anything right”

“I’m not good enough to do that”

“I can’t”

It is said that the average person has anywhere between 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts every day. When the majority of those thoughts focus on putting yourself down or talking negatively to yourself, what do you think will manifest in your life?

Children who are constantly told that they are useless, a waste of space, no good, dumb, won’t amount to anything, often do go on to be these things, because that’s all they have ever been told and that’s what they come to believe as the truth.

Would you ever speak to your children like that? Then why do you talk to yourself like that?

When you believe you can’t do things or you are not worthy, then your thoughts become your actions. You don’t do things and you act like you are not worthy. People (especially your children) see someone who doesn’t believe in themselves, who isn’t achieving to their full potential, who has given up on their dreams, who has given up on life. They see someone who is miserable, and bitter and negative.

Words are powerful things.

To look at an individual word, it doesn’t look like much. After all, it’s just a bunch of letters put in a particular order. But change a few letters and it can make a world of difference.   Choose your words wisely

For example:   “I can’t” can easily become “I can”.

“I am not….” can easily become “I am…..”

See the difference?

Words are powerful things. They have the power to build up or to tear down. They have the power to make you smile, or make you cry. They can be the difference between doing and not doing. They can be the difference between failure and success.

If your life isn’t where you want it to be, maybe you need to change some of the words in your vocabulary.

It may just make all the difference.

Write to the Point CommunicationsNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications.This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.  

She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.  

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com  

Lessons from 2014

It’s amazing how quickly a year goes by.

As I write this, it’s the last day of 2014, but it doesn’t seem that long ago that we were leaving 2013 behind.

Like many people, I have spent the last few days of the year thinking and reflecting upon the year that is almost done.

In short, it’s been a busy and challenging year with lots to look back on. However, the most important things I have taken from this year are things my children have taught me.

They have taught me many things this year, but there are four things that have really stood out.

Don't let fear hold you back

This boy doesn’t let fear hold him back.

Drop the fear and get involved in life

Many of us let fear hold us back. We are afraid to try new things or do what we really want to do because of fear. We may be afraid of what others will think; afraid of not knowing anyone else; afraid that it will be difficult; afraid that it will involve sacrifice or (insert your own fear here).

However, when we listen to our fears and let them rule us, we miss out on so much.

My son, Josh is a great example of ‘getting in and having a go’. If he feels any fear, he doesn’t acknowledge it or even speak of it. He just ‘does’. He’s always up for a challenge and willing to try new things, even if he has never done them before, or doesn’t know anyone else who is doing them. He doesn’t let other people’s opinions prevent him from doing what he wants to do. In short, he doesn’t let fear hold him back. And he is loving life.

Look to the future

The future is something that can excite us or scare us. I think one of the reasons we find the future so scary at times is the fear of the unknown. We don’t know what is in store and we usually focus too much on the negative ‘what ifs’, rather than the positive possibilities.

My son is about to start a new journey at high school. Even though this is a huge change and he doesn’t know many others going to that school, he’s still looking forward to it with anticipation and excitement. He’s looking forward to meeting new people, and learning new things. He’s also looking forward to discovering just what it is he wants to do career-wise when he grows up. To him, his future is an endless sea of possibilities.

Work on your weaknesses

Just as all of us have strengths, we all have weaknesses too. However most of us focus on our strengths — the things we are good at, and avoid our weaknesses — the things we are not so good at.

At the beginning of this year, my daughter, Laura set some goals for the coming year (with the help of her teacher). All the children were asked to identify one thing that they needed to work on. Hers was ‘confidence’. My daughter is a natural-born worrier which can sometimes lead to anxiety and a lack of confidence. However, this year she has worked very hard on becoming more confident.

She has put herself in situations that made her feel very uncomfortable. So much so, that on some nights, it took hours for her to drop off to sleep due to how worried she was. She has taken on challenges that she would normally shy away from, and ended up performing very well. However, the biggest lesson she has learnt from all of this is that things are never as bad as you imagine them to be. By stepping out of her comfort zone, she has learnt that she is capable and that has led to a newfound confidence. So always, always work on your weaknesses.

Follow your own path

This girl is not afraid to follow her own path

Follow you own path

This is a hard thing to do sometimes. Often we have a goal in mind, or something we want to try, yet we get caught up with what everyone else is doing. The primary school my daughter goes to is very big on basketball. About half the school play after-school basketball (my daughter included), and many kids play for domestic teams as well. This year, many of my daughter’s friends were joining domestic basketball teams and a few of her friends asked her if she would join too. We also asked her several times if she wanted to join another team.

Her answer was a steadfast ‘no’. No, because she wanted to keep playing her keyboard and continue with her singing. In fact, she has done so well with her singing this year, she was asked to join the Australian Girls Choir, next year. So while all of her friends are playing basketball, she will be pursuing her love of singing and music. She will be following her own path. Something she is able to do, now she has more confidence in herself.

So as I sit back and think of the coming year and all it will bring, I’m not making resolutions. Instead, I am thinking about how I can make the most of the coming 12 months, just as my children have done in 2014.

In 2015, I aim to:

  • Drop the fear and make the most of all opportunities that come my way
  • Follow my own path, regardless of what others are doing
  • Work on my weaknesses, so they become strengths
  • Look to the future with optimism and hope, rather than worrying about what could go wrong.

In short, I want to be braver than I have been in the past.

This morning while at the gym, I heard the song “Brave” by Sarah Bareillis, and I felt that in some ways, it summed up how I want to approach the coming year.

What are you aiming for in 2015? Are you going to be brave too?

Give yourself a chance

words by nerissa

Source: VicFit Factory (http://www.vicfitfactory.com/)

If you could do (or have) anything at all, what would it be?

Perhaps you want a new job, a promotion or even a change in your career.

Maybe you really want to travel — see the world and meet new people.

You may even wish to do something daring — like bungee jumping, parachuting or leaving the house without making the bed!

Maybe you are thinking about starting a family, buying a house, selling a house, buying a bigger house?

Perhaps you want to leave a bad relationship or start a new relationship, or deal with something from your past.

Do you have a dream or goal? Or maybe an idea forming in your mind of what your ideal life would be like?

If you do, and you’re not going after it, then what’s stopping you?

The biggest thing that holds people back is FEAR.

What is FEAR?

Fear is a very real feeling. Actually, it is our body’s way of protecting us in the face of life-threatening situations. Fear is a response to a perceived threat — whether it be physical or emotional.

words by nerissaYou may have heard of the ‘fight or flight’ response. This is our body’s inbuilt response mechanism, that prompts us to either fight or flee from perceived harm or threat to us.

The key word in both the above paragraphs is the word ‘perceived’. Perceived doesn’t mean ‘actual’. It means that you have interpreted something as threatening to you.

The trouble is most of us are afraid of things that are not really threats at all. More often than not, the situations that we imagine are more frightening than reality. The situations we imagine are also not likely to happen.

We may be frightened of what people think, of being ‘left out’ or ‘not fitting in’. We might be afraid that we will lose friends.

We may fear losing our money.

We may fear failure and the feeling of disappointment.

Perhaps we are scared about being out of our comfort zone, of feeling uncomfortable in new situations.

Maybe (in the case of bungee jumping), we are fearful of losing our life.

We may worry that the price we need to pay to have what we want will be too great.

We may even fear that when reach our goals, it may still not be enough — we may still feel unsatisfied, unhappy and discontent.

But what we are afraid of is not really the negative outcome — we’re afraid that we won’t be able to deal with it. We don’t trust ourselves enough to say “well, whatever happens, I can handle it’.

Fear is a real feeling, but it’s often based on false evidence.

FEAR can be described as  False Evidence Appearing Real

It can also stand for Face  Everything And Rise.

This week, I was encouraged to give myself a chance. To forget about everything that wasn’t happening, or that may not happen, and instead, focus on steps I need to take, regardless of any outcome.

words by nerissaI was encouraged to give myself a chance.

While we are consumed with fear and worry, we cannot possibly be doing all we can to maximise our chances of success. After all, a head full of fears, has no space to dream.

We have two choices. One, we can either Forget Everything And Run

OR

two, we can Face Everything And Rise.

When was the last time you gave yourself a chance?

Really gave yourself a chance?

cropped-twitterpic.jpgNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

 She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

 

My greatest inspiration

IMG_4567

My two biggest inspirations.

Why do you do what you do?

Why do you work? Why do you exercise? Why do you run a taxi service to your kids in your spare time? Why do you go to church?

Why do you REALLY do these things?

Maybe you don’t know. Maybe you’ve never taken the time to think about it before. Maybe you think you know, but you really don’t. Maybe you don’t even care.

However, if you don’t know the real reason behind the choices you make every day, then what you are doing is not really a choice. It’s either a habit, something you feel you ‘have to’ or ‘should do’, or something you do because everyone else is doing it.

When you know your real reason — your ‘WHY’ for doing the things you do, then the actual performing of these tasks (no matter how unpleasant/boring/time-wasting they may be), has a little more meaning, and therefore a purpose. It becomes easier to ‘roll with life’, because you are no longer just going through the motions, wondering what it’s all for.

Instead, your life becomes more focused, more meaningful and a lot happier. Because all of a sudden, you’re not just ‘going to work to pay the bills’. Instead, you ‘re ‘working so you can take that overseas trip’, or you’re driving the kids around ‘so they have an opportunity to develop friendships’.

See the difference?

The same goes for taking care of your health. Many of us say we ‘need to lose weight’ or ‘want to get fit’. Why?

If you ‘need to lose weight’ because everyone else is on a diet, then that’s not a good reason. If you ‘want to get fit’ because Cross-fit is the new best thing, then that’s not a reason either. Even a doctor telling you that you need to do something about your health is not a reason, unless it is YOUR reason. You have to own your reason. You have to really understand WHY you do the things you do.

I have recently done this with regard to my health. What started out as ‘wanting to lose weight’ has evolved into something more meaningful. I no longer care about my ‘weight’, because I have learnt that weight is only a small measure of the kind of person I am. Sure, I want to be living in a body that can continue to move as I age. I want to feel healthy and vibrant and enjoy life as I get older. I do want to feel good and happy about who I am. And the vainer part of me wants to look good! But my real reason — my WHY for training and eating and changing my life for the better, is not about me anymore.

It’s about the dream I have for my kids.

I don’t want them to bury me before my time or to watch me die from a disease I can prevent. I don’t want them to spend their adulthood caring for me, because I haven’t taken good care of myself. I don’t want them to spend their time taking me to doctors, hospitals and medical appointments, or worrying about my health. I want to know my grandkids and have a quality relationship with them. I want to do things with my family, rather than just watch from the sidelines. I want our time together on this earth to be of the highest quality it can be, doing things that matter and things that make us happy. Making happy memories instead of sad ones.

I want my kids to be happy. I want them to know what makes them happy. I want them to be strong enough in themselves to be who THEY want to be, not what the world tells them they should be. I want them to follow their own dreams and passions, whatever they are, and regardless of what others may say about it.

I want my kids to love and value themselves, and to see value in everyone they meet. I want them to inspire and encourage others to be better people. I want them to bring joy to the lives of others, simply by being themselves. I want them to respect themselves and those around them.

I want them to develop a love for healthy food and exercise, so they can live healthy lives. I don’t want them fighting disease, illness or depression. Instead, I want them to make the most out of life.

don't tell people your dreamsI want my kids to be the best they can be and know it’s okay to aspire to greatness. I want them to be proud of who they are as people and what they contribute to the world. I want them to value their uniqueness and special gifts they have been blessed with, and to use those gifts to help others.

I want them to be resilient enough to rise above negativity and hate, and know that when they experience that, it is not a reflection of them, but rather the person who is being negative and hateful. I want them to be confident in who they are, and to never, ever let others’ negativity get the better of them, or cause them to think negatively of themselves.

I want them to seize opportunities when they come along, without worrying about whether they are ‘good enough’ to follow through. I want them to be confident in themselves and their abilities. I want them to trust themselves, and know that they will always find a solution to a problem.

I realise that is a pretty big dream I have for my kids. But I believe it is a worthy dream.

While it’s true that none of us can control how our kids’ lives turn out, we do have an opportunity to model to them what we value in life.

I’m not saying that I am all of the above — but I am working on being so.

The interesting thing about all of this is that since writing down WHY I am making positive changes in my life, I find myself reflecting on the above while I am doing other seemingly mundane and meaningless things such as cleaning the bathroom, doing the grocery shopping and taking out the rubbish.

Although I am not fully embracing the less appealing tasks involved in raising kids, every now and then I catch myself thinking “Why am I REALLY doing this?” And it causes me to turn my negative feelings about these jobs into more meaningful ones.

Why do you do what you do?

cropped-twitterpic.jpgNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

7 secrets to weight loss

scales2If you’re reading this, you probably need to lose weight.

This is not a judgement about you, rather a statement based upon obesity statistics in Australia.

You see, the prevalence of overweight and obesity in Australia has been steadily rising for the past 30 years. The latest statistics from the National Health and Medical Research Council, indicate that around 60 per cent of Australian adults are classified as overweight or obese and more than 25 per cent of these, fall into the obese category.

Did you even know that?

Even more worrying is the obesity rates of our children — our next generation — are increasing too. It is estimated that around one in four children aged 5-17 years, are classified as overweight. Six per cent of these are obese.

However, I believe there is something even sadder than being overweight.

And that is the lengths — at best, ridiculous and at worst, dangerous — that people will do to shed extra kilos.

Now I am no expert in medicine, nutrition, exercise or weight loss. I don’t hold any official qualifications in any of those areas. But there are some secrets surrounding weight loss that you may not know.

Today, I am going to share them with you.

Secret No. 1 — Weight loss is not about weight loss

“What do you mean?” I hear you ask. Just that. Losing weight shouldn’t be about ‘weight loss’. Too many people focus on a number on a scale and think if that number is going down, they have lost weight. Hooray!

But what have they lost? Certainly weight. But is it the kind of weight you want to lose? If we are honest, we want (or need) to lose FAT. But most of us avoid using the word fat, because it has lots of negative connotations. So we use the word ‘weight’. It’s a bit more touchy-feely and less confronting, isn’t it?

But when you focus on losing weight, as opposed to losing fat, then you tend to focus on a number on the scale. A decrease in number on the scale can mean fat loss, but it can also mean fluid loss and muscle loss. This is more so the case, when following a fad diet or a ‘quick-fix’, (more on that later). So change your thinking and focus on ‘fat loss’.

Secret No. 2 — Weight loss is not about the scale

Losing weight (and you know I mean losing fat), should never, ever be about the scale. Sure, your doctor may have recommended you lose 20kg to improve your health. But if you lose 19.7kg have you failed? Will you still be striving, obsessing, doing whatever it takes to lose that extra 300g?

I would argue that if you are fixated on a scale, then yes, you would. Why? Because your focus has been on a number on a scale, rather than the health benefits gained by losing excess fat. Is an extra 300g going to make a HUGE difference to your health? I’m not a physician, but I would hazard a guess and say “no”.

So stop obsessing about the scale and the numbers on it. Instead focus on your health, how you are feeling, how your clothes are fitting and how much more energy you have. These are all much more positive things to think about.

Secret No. 3 — Too much weight is put on a scale (pardon the pun).

When you are on a mission to lose weight, what is your focus? I mean, your main focus? Those darned scales, I bet. You jump on them when you wake up to see how much you weigh. You get on them after breakfast to see how much you ‘gained’. You have a sneaky weigh after going to the toilet. Hooray! You’ve lost half a kilo! You have a final weigh-in before bed to discover, (gasp!) you have gained a kilo since lunchtime! And if you are going to a weight loss meeting, you check your weight all day long and avoid drinking in case it ‘shows on the scales’.

Sound familiar?

How does weighing yourself make you feel? I’ll tell you how you feel. One minute you feel ecstatic, then next concerned, then you are happy again, but that soon turns to feeling overwhelmed, depressed, worthless, angry, frustrated and disgusted with yourself. And then the cycle starts again the next day.

Instead of reveling in and celebrating the fact you are making positive changes for your health in your life, you are instead riding a roller coaster of emotions, all day long. scalesAnd there are usually more downs than ups.

Our personal worth should not be caught up in scales, and nor should the value of making a healthy lifestyle change. Scales don’t congratulate us for drinking more water. They don’t clap when you avoided chocolate all day. They don’t say “well done”, for going for a walk. They certainly don’t reflect all the positive things about you — like what a good mother you are, how kind-hearted you are, what a creative thinker you are, how organised you can be or how your sense of humour makes others feel happy.

So the secret is out — get rid of the scales.

Secret No. 4 — To lose weight, you need to eat…and drink…and move!

“No, no, no!” you say. “You have to cut kilojoules to lose weight!”

Well, yes — and no!

Too many people think that cutting back on their kilojoules, omitting food groups and eating smaller portions is the way to lose weight. Wrong.

It might work in the short-term, but just how long can you avoid bread or potatoes? Are you prepared to eat entrée serves of steamed veggies and rubbery chicken for the rest of your life? Prepared to give up chocolate and ice-cream forever, in the quest of being ‘thin’?

Yes, it’s true you do have to cut back on your kilojoule intake if you want to lose fat. But you shouldn’t be eliminate food groups or reduce your food so much that you barely eat a thing. What this will do (along with leaving you tired, lethargic and cranky) is slow your metabolism down. And when you start eating again (because you will), you will gain anything that you lost and then some — only to start the process over again. Sigh!

Focus on eating whole foods that will nourish you, and get rid of processed foods. And don’t vow to live the rest of your life without the foods you enjoy. Seriously, no fat-free, sugar-free, preservative and chemical-laden food will replace the sensation of eating real chocolate, so eat the chocolate for heaven’s sake, if you really crave it. You’ll be satisfied and less likely to trawl through your pantry munching your way through a multitude of substitutes, only to end up eating the chocolate anyway.

Don’t be afraid of food. Eat it, enjoy it, be creative with it and savour it. Our bodies need REAL food for energy, for nourishment and for enjoyment. Food is your friend if you want to lose fat. And so is water. Don’t be afraid to drink it. After all, it won’t ‘show on the scales’ now you have ditched them!

And don’t forget you need to move. I am not a qualified exercise physiologist or a personal trainer, so won’t be giving advice on exercise. The only thing I will say is our bodies were designed to move. They were not designed to sit in a car, sit at a desk and sit on a couch for the majority of the day.

So seek the advice of a professional as to how to exercise, and then go and do it. The only pre-requisite…you need to enjoy it.

Secret No. 7 — Eating is never about the food

Believe or not, eating is not about food. That’s right. Eating is NOT about food.

Yes, we eat food, but our reasons for eating are purely about our feelings. We eat to celebrate, we eat because we feel hungry, we eat because we feel thirsty, we eat because we are angry, or sad. We eat to mask our loneliness or our boredom. We eat because we feel it’s the ‘right thing to do’ and we don’t want to offend people.

One of the secrets to fat loss is taking the emotion out of the food. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy eating. But instead try to focus on your reason for eating. If you are physically hungry, then eat, ensuring it is something nourishing that will take you closer to your goals. A whole packet of Tim Tams does not fall into this category!

If you want to eat (but aren’t actually hungry), then stop and  identify the real reason you want to eat. If you are bored, find something to do. If you are sad, phone a friend. Doing these things won’t mean you won’t eat . It just means you are more aware (and are consciously choosing whether to eat or not).

Secret No. 6 — Weight loss takes time

You might think you already knew this, but how many ‘quick-fixes’ or fad diets have you done? Be honest! “I’ll just do the shake diet to kick-start my weight loss” or “I’ve got a wedding in three weeks, and I have to fit into my dress. I’ve heard those body wraps give really good results.”

Seriously, get real. No fad, no gimmick and no quick-fix will work. Accept this as fact. Save your money and your sanity and accept that you didn’t gain 15 kilos in 2 weeks, so you’re not going to lose it in that time.

The best thing you can do is accept that it is going to take time to reduce your girth and then put your head down and get on with it.

secret to weight lossSecret No. 6 — Quick-fixes, fad diets and gimmicks don’t work

Now, use a bit of common sense for a minute. If all of these magic pills and potions and shakes and wraps worked, wouldn’t we all be a healthy weight?

Some of those quick-fixes out there are just plain ridiculous. Some are dangerous. For example, I saw a post on Facebook the other day advertising body wraps as a way to lose weight. Firstly, they cost a bomb, secondly they claimed to “go into your pores and attack your fat cells, releasing toxins which you urinate out by drinking lots of water”. Seriously, that doesn’t happen. And there is no medical or scientific evidence to prove it.

But here is the dangerous bit. While ‘wrapping’, you are supposed to drink half your body weight in water. Yes, that’s right — half your body weight. So if you weigh 80kg, then you need to drink 40 litres of water. Firstly, that’s impossible. Secondly, that’s fatal.

Your long-term health is more valuable than fitting into a little black dress, or having a ‘beach-ready body’. If something sounds too good to be true, then it’s not worth the piece of paper it’s written on. Please, please, please say “no” to these fads and gimmicks and put your health first.

Secret No. 7 — Losing weight won’t make you happy

Finally, you need to know that losing weight losing FAT will not make you happy.

“Sure”, you say. “I’ll be happier when I can do my jeans up,” or “I’ll be stoked to be seen on the beach this summer”.

While that may be true, I am willing to bet that if you are not currently happy with your life and happy with whom you are, then having a body like a model will not make you any happier.

Yes, you might slim down and have people stopping you in the street telling you how fabulous you look. But if you don’t already believe that you are fabulous, it won’t mean a thing. You see, the voice in your head that already tells you, you are useless, will be telling you that you’re a fake, that you don’t deserve these comments. And then any results you have achieved will slowly, but surely disappear as you comfort eat your way through a tub of ice-cream and you will still be the same, unhappy person you already were, only you would have gained back all the weight (fat) that you lost.

This is probably the most under-rated secret of them all. I believe you need to love yourself as you are NOW, to be successful in changing your weight.Weight does not dictate your health or your worth

This is probably the hardest thing to do as well, particularly if you have loathed or at the very least, disliked yourself for a while.

If you love yourself, you believe you deserve the best. You believe that you should take care of yourself. You believe you are important. You believe you are unique. You believe you are worth something and can offer something important to the world.

When you really, truly believe all these things, then you will be happy, regardless of what your body is like. No number on the scale, no size tag in your jeans can make you value yourself for the remarkable human being that you are.

 

As we move out of winter and into spring, advertising for weight loss companies will begin in earnest. Distributors will begin spruiking the benefits of their latest, crazy and ridiculous products, “guaranteed to help you lose weight”. Magazines will be filled with menu plans and ‘diets’ that the rich and famous have been on with “remarkable” results. And you will be feeling the pull, the temptation to jump on one of these bandwagons, hoping that it will take you into ‘slim-city’.

My hope in writing this post, is to encourage you (if indeed you need/want to lose fat) to go about it sensibly.

Don’t get caught up in the hype. Don’t invest your time and money in something that won’t work. Don’t get obsessive about your weight. And don’t forget this about being healthy, not thin.

Most importantly, remember you are worth something, no matter what your body shape.

cropped-twitterpic.jpgNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

 She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

 

 

The path to success: a leap of faith and a whole lot of trust

leap of faithTrust is something I have been thinking about a lot of late. When you really think about it, all of us exercise varying levels of trust every day. We trust that our train will get us to work without incident.  We trust that the school will take good care of our kids.

Without trust, we would probably spend most of our days incapacitated with worry.

Obviously, there are varying degrees of trust. Yet the ability to trust seems to be related to the consequences of the trust being broken, or the likelihood of something going wrong.

For example, if you trust that a chair will hold your weight, and it doesn’t, then the repercussions are likely to be fairly minor — maybe some bumps and bruises and a bruised ego to boot. So it’s a risk worth taking.

However, one thing that I have realised, is that it can be a lot harder to trust ourselves than to trust other people. Yet in order to begin to trust ourselves, we sometimes need someone to believe in us first.

About seven weeks ago, I completed a 12-week body transformation. It was a fantastic 12-weeks (overall). There were times when I wanted to throw in the towel and just blob on the couch and eat ice-cream. There were times when I really didn’t want to get up at 4.50am to get to the gym for my workout. There were even times when I wanted to quit because I couldn’t see any changes happening, no matter how hard I was working out and how spot on my nutrition was.

So in order to keep going, I began to trust more. I stopped thinking and analysing and began to trust the process. I trusted the advice my trainer Mel, was giving me, especially when it came to nutrition. I trusted my body would respond if I kept following the plan. And during my training sessions, I trusted my partner to ‘spot me’, especially when I was lifting weights where I knew the likelihood of getting out all my reps was low. Trust was becoming more important the further we got into the challenge.

The most important person I had to trust in, was myself.

Trusting in ourselves is sometimes easier said than done. Too often we doubt our abilities and our intuition, only to find that if we trusted in ourselves in the first place, we would have been a lot better off. Often this inability to trust ourselves can render us paralysed with fear, rooted to the spot, afraid to take the next step.

I clearly remember a training session towards the end of the challenge. Six of us were in various stages trying to master three sets of 12 push-ups on our toes. When Mel found out that I could already do a full three sets she told me to get a weight and put it on my back.

“What! A weight?,” I thought. “How much?,” I asked, expecting her to say 1-2kg.

“5 kilos,” she said.

“5 kilos? That’s heavy!” I said in shock.

“There are heavier ones,” she countered.

So off I went to get the 5kg weight plate, pretty sure that I wouldn’t be able to do one push-up with that extra weight on my back. After all, push-ups on my toes had taken a while to achieve. Besides, push-ups were always the last thing in our training sessions, and I had already increased my weights for every exercise. I didn’t trust my body’s ability to push much further than I had.

“Even if you only get out three or four,” said Mel. “Just try it!”

So the weight went on my back. And I began to push them out. 1-2-3-4-5-

“Keep going,” said Mel.

6-7

“Keep going”

8-9-10

“keep going”

11-…

And then I collapsed, ecstatic but shocked that I had done so many.

I then went on to do another two sets of 12 push-ups with that 5kg plate on my back.

My trust in myself (and my body) was restored because Mel, whom I trusted when it came to exercise and training, believed that I could do it. She felt it was safe for me to attempt it. She also gave me permission to ‘fail’ at getting the full set out, yet encouraged me to keep going in my attempt to get my push-ups out.

Somewhere along the line, we all need people like that. Someone who can see the potential in us that we often fail to see. Someone to help us believe in ourselves when we find it difficult. Someone to encourage us to ‘have a go’. Someone to be there beside us to support us and cheer us. Someone whom we can rely upon to help us out if things go wrong. Someone to say ‘it’s okay if you fail’. Someone you can trust.

success isn't linearThe road to success is never smooth sailing. It’s a bit like a dance where you take some steps forward and some steps back. Sometimes your steps take you back to the start and sometimes they go way off course. At times your steps may be stumbles and may cause you to fall. And depending upon the dance, you may need to take a giant leap of faith.

However, if you have someone beside you guiding your steps, picking you up when you fall, believing in you and giving you the confidence to take that leap of faith, then your chances of success are that much higher.

The question you need to ask is: “Do I have someone like that in my life?”

If you don’t have someone like that…

I don’t wish this blog to sound like an ad, but if you don’t have someone in your life to help you reach your goals (particularly if they are related to health, fitness and wellness), then I really encourage you to contact Mel Cook.

Not only is she a Lifestyle Transformation Specialist and Director at Run With Life, but she is a friendly, positive and happy person who brings out the best in people. It doesn’t matter if you are young or not-so-young, or whether you are fit or not-so-fit. If you want to become a happier, healthier version of yourself, then take that leap of faith and give her a call.

You can also find out more information about our next 12-week Transformation Challenge.

 

cropped-twitterpic.jpgNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

 She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

 

Why you shouldn’t make New Year resolutions

As the year is beginning to wind down, and most of us are in the process of putting the final (or even the beginning 😉 ) touches on Christmas, some of you may be thinking about the next big event — New Year’s Eve.New Year resolutions

And what goes with New Year’s Eve? New Year resolutions!

I’m sure all of us at one time or another have made New Year resolutions.

I’m going to lose weight.

I’m going to quit smoking

I’m going to get fit

I’m going to get a better job

I’m going to save more money.

Blah, blah, blah.

Well, I don’t believe in New Year resolutions.

Why?

Because they never amount to anything.

Some research I came across recently stated that only 8% of people achieve their New Year Resolutions.

Just 8%. So why bother making them at all then, if they are just going to remain wishes and dreams until the next New Year rolls around and you do it all again?

People who make New Year resolutions are really just making a wish. Saying they want to achieve something, yet leave it to fate. As if by putting this dream into the ether will make it manifest before their eyes.

If you want to make next year better than this one, then you need to set GOALS!

Over this year, I have achieved some truly great things. Most of these were a result of getting serious about setting goals, rather than making a wish.

During the past few weeks, I have been thinking about what I want to achieve next year, and am now in the ‘goal-setting’ phase.

For those of you who think goal-setting is boring, you haven’t done it properly. When you set goals, you should become excited about what you are going to achieve. You should feel motivated. And you should come out of it with a plan on how to make it all happen. Which excites you even further. And having a plan helps you believe you can do it.

Over this past week, I have set my health and fitness goals for the year. I will be sitting down with my trainer and some like-minded people later on this week to clarify them further and to make a plan so I can achieve them. That is very cool.

During this week and next, I will be setting aside a good few hours to clarify and set my business goals for 2014. I already have a fair idea of what I want to achieve but I need to put it on paper and make a plan so these goals become a reality.

I have also been thinking of some more personal goals I want to achieve. These are not tied to my health and fitness, nor to my business. But rather, things that I would like to achieve just for me.

One of these is quite huge. It’s something I have wanted to do for a very long time, but the timing has never been quite right. Well, I am beginning to think the timing might be better next year, so it’s on my list. I have moments of believing I can do it, and then other moments when I question it.

Nevertheless, I am setting it anyway.

Because once something is on your goal list, things begin to happen.

So now that 2013 is drawing to a close, why don’t you think about some real GOALS for next year instead of wasting time with resolutions.

set a goal so big....

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